Text: Anne-Caroline Paucot
Photo: DR

Anne-Caroline Paucot

“Neckinitis”, “click-mania” and “tech zombiism”: the symptoms of these diseases of the future can be felt today.


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Plague, cholera… Although they rarely disappear forever, diseases take part in writing history. Meanwhile, other illnesses develop. And our binary, virtual, connected world has brought its share of health issues.

It only takes a few seconds in a public place to realise why “neckinitis” is becoming such a common modern-day ailment. This tendonitis of the neck comes from continually looking at screens. American surgeon Kenneth Hansraj estimates that we can exert up to 22kg of pressure on our neck from tilting our head down to look at a smartphone! That phone is also causing “nomophobia”, the fear of being out of contact with our mobile device. No signal, dead battery and similar situations lead addicted users to feel intense anxiety. When technology gods are with screen aficionados, they can be victims of “click-mania”, or attacks of restlessness brought on by the absence of notifications and alerts. We’ve become addicted to endlessly clicking our way through the Internet. When we stop clicking for a while, we feel that click anxiety coming on.

Our attachment to an electronic device can also turn us into “tech zombies”. This disorder affects a number of adolescents, referring to their physical presence and mental absence in their environment. These individuals are unable to communicate with the people around them, but can carry on remote conversations.

As if tech zombies weren’t unbearable enough, parents break into full panic mode when their kids suffer from “virtualism”, a sort of reality deficit disorder. Constantly absorbed in video games and virtual worlds, patients can no longer tell the difference between the physical and virtual world. They think they’re avatars with super powers. And this illness can result in tragedy, with patients even jumping out the window thinking they can fly!

With technology palpably taking over lives, other objects can provoke pathological reactions. Individuals can develop “robophobia”, a delusional fear that robots will steal their work or their spouse. “Metalism” refers to reactions to implants and prosthetics. Introducing metal into the body can trigger allergies, inflammation, pain, short-circuiting, intoxication and other problems. And as any good thing can also be a bad thing, our increased longevity can result in an “eternity” depression caused by the boredom felt from living for too long.

These disorders have not yet been labelled but have been announced. Like any other disease, prevention is better than a cure. Once our amusement dies down, we should give these health issues a closer look. ⁄



To read

“La Santé demain”, Ed. Les Propulseurs